19 March 2020

Harmony Day is celebrated annually on March 21st in Australia and has been since 1999.

Harmony day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The day has expanded to a week - Harmony Week, to recognise the diversity and inclusion activities that take place during the week at schools and workplaces.

The ongoing theme of Harmony Day is ‘everyone belongs’. Harmony Day is a day of cultural respect for all. By participating in Harmony Day and Week activities, we can learn and understand how all Australians equally belong to this nation and enrich it.

Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world – from the oldest continuous culture of our First Australians to the 49% of Australians who were born overseas or have a parent who was.

Our cultural diversity is a great strength and brings with it a whole host of traditions, religions, languages and of course, food! It helps us to do things in different ways, reduces discrimination and lets us accept difference.

Some great ways to celebrate Harmony Day and Week 2020 include:

Sharing a Meal* – have people at your workplace, school or in your community come together and share a traditional dish.

Community Events* - There’s lots happening around Harmony Week, check some of them out here.

Share your story – sharing stories is a powerful tool and can be done in a range of ways. Think about writing your story down, making a video, speaking at work or school, or sharing with just your friends. It can be super powerful to hear other people’s stories. Realising that somebody else has felt the same way or made the same mistake helps you feel less alone.

Watch this short video to hear from Roxy on how she found the strength to share her story.

Watch/Read/Listen! - Hearing or seeing your native (or second) language can be really comforting. If you don’t have people around you that speak the language you are missing, try out community radios! SBS Radio has programs in 68 languages.

Reconnect with the people you miss – at this time it is hard to connect with people in your own city, due to social distancing, and you may not know when you will next see your overseas loved ones. Luckily, technology is at your fingertips. Start taking advantage of FaceTime, Skype, video and voice messaging.

Reconnect with country - For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Harmony Week is a great opportunity to reconnect to country. If spending time on country is unfamiliar, you could ask an Auntie, Uncle, Elder, or friend to welcome you onto their land and learn about traditions and practice.

Feeling a sense of belonging is important for wellbeing. Taking the time to connect with and share your culture helps with deeper connections.

Why orange?

You may also notice that people wear orange during Harmony Week - traditionally, orange signifies social communication, meaningful conversations, freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect. You can choose to wear orange during Harmony Week to show your support for cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia.

Feeling a sense of belonging is important for wellbeing. Taking the time to connect with and share your culture helps with deeper connections.

*If you are planning an event with a large gathering, you may wish to visit the Department of Health website for latest information relating to COVID-19.

[Image via Reach Out]

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